Category Archives: November

30th November – Today In Our Footballing History




29th November – Today In Our Footballing History

29/11/1978 Sofia Bulgaria 2-0 Gerry Armstrong, Billy Caskey

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Sammy Nelson, Bryan Hamilton, Chris Nicholl, David McCreery, Billy Caskey, Martin O’Neill, Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy (Vic Moreland), Terry Cochrane (Chris McGrath)

In the pouring rain Gerry Armstrong put the Irish ahead on 17 taking advantage of a mix up between keeper and defender. The Irish thought they had scored a 2nd on 58 when a Martin O’Neill lob appeared to drop over the line off the underside of the bar, but it was not given. Billy Caskey sealed the win at the end of a corner on 83. Northern Ireland manager Danny Blanchflower declared; “This was the finest performance since I took over as manager. We could have won by four goals. I came here with an open mind about tactics and realised we didn’t have to defend.”


Terry Cochrane –

“I didn’t get on with Danny’s assistant Tommy Kavanagh. He used to call me The Barfly. He was really running the show, not Danny and at one match in Bulgaria, I right hooked a defender and he took me off straight away. Chris McGrath came on and got nutmegged straight away, went on his arse and got his two front teeth knocked out. ‘Good substitution Tommy’ I said and he just stared at me.”

“Danny once said that we could have played like his 1960’s Spurs team but there was no way. We were at a match somewhere in Eastern Europe once and an orchestra was playing. Danny got a bit carried away and started conducting them, which only served to fire them and their team up even more. He really was senile, I tell you.”


Victory Shoots Ireland To Top Of England’s Group


Billy Caskey 1978 Bulgaria v Northern Ireland Match Worn Shirt

Northern Ireland Footballing Greats

28th November – Today In Our Footballing History

28/11/1962 Belfast Poland 2-0 Johnny Crossan, Billy Bingham

Bobby Irvine, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Danny Blanchflower, Terry Neill, Jimmy Nicholson, Billy Bingham, Johnny Crossan, Derek Dougan, Jimmy McIlroy, Bobby Braithwaite


The Times – Thursday 29th November

Northern Ireland progressed to the second round of the European Nations Cup at Windsor Park, Belfast, last night by repeating their 2-0 success of the first leg game at Katowice last month against Poland. Crossan made a successful return to international football, scoring the first goal and helping to make the other. Crossan, now with Sunderland following the recent lifting of his suspension by the Football League, stamped his personality on the game soon after the start when he hooked home a splendid shot. He showed his trickery at inside forward throughout the match and consolidated his side’s 1-0 interval advantage when combining with McIlroy to give Bingham the chance to score Ireland’s second goal midway through the second half…

Russia are the holders of the European Nations Cup and the final of the present competition is not due to be played until the summer of 1964.

Northern Ireland win 4-0 on aggregate.



Johnny ‘Joby’ Crossan had endured three years in exile, banned from British football for alleged transfer irregularities. Almost immediately on his return to British football, Crossan was awarded an international recall. He marked the occasion, a European Nations Cup clash against Poland, with perhaps the pick of his ten international goals. A Billy Bingham cross from the right found Crossan on the edge of the box and he struck the ball at waist height with his right foot. The stunning 25-yard volley sailed into the goal at the Kop end, setting Northern Ireland on the way to a 2-0 win. “It’s all like a fairy story,” recalls Crossan. “And what a wonderful ending … I got both feet off the ground continental style and volleyed it home … It was one of the most memorable goals of my career.”

Johnny Crossan: “It was the night before my 22nd birthday and the first goal since my suspension was lifted. I had only hit the bar for Sunderland. Sadly most of my relatives didn’t see it. They had been involved in an accident en route to Windsor Park and got in too late. There was no television at the game and I’ve seen very few photographs of the goal. But so many people can describe it vividly. I suppose it might have been a bit special. Billy Bingham knocked in our other goal and I did some of the work. But nobody seems to recall that one.”


* Trivia –

Danny Blanchflower received a gold medal after the match marking half a century of caps for Northern Ireland. The Polish squad chipped-in with a cigar box as their tribute to a true footballing great.

N. Ireland Through

The forgotten story of … John Crossan’s ban from football

Jobby was our one in a million


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats

27th November – Today In Our Footballing History

27/11/1946 Glasgow Scotland 0-0

Ted Hinton, Bill Gorman, Jim Feeney, Con Martin, Jackie Vernon, Peter Farrell, Davy Cochrane, Johnny Carey, David Walsh, Alec Stevenson, Tommy Eglington

Original Source: The Scotsman

Online Source:

Scots Football Gloom


British Pathe Highlight Video

Northern Ireland Footballing Greats

26th November – Today In Our Footballing History




25th November – Today In Our Footballing History

25/11/1964 Glasgow Scotland 2-3 George Best, Willie Irvine

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Martin Harvey, Terry Neill, John Parke, Billy Humphries, Willie Irvine, Johnny Crossan, Bobby Braithwaite, George Best

Hearts’ Willie Wallace made his debut for Scotland, but two other international careers would be cut short – goalkeeper Robert Forsyth (4 caps) and James Kennedy (6 caps). All five goals were scored in the opening half-hour; George Best put the visitors ahead on 9 but only for Davie Wilson to equalise a minute later on 10, Alan Gilzean then put Scotland ahead on 16, Willie Irvine levelled it again at 2-2 on 18, Wilson netted what turned out to be the winner on 30.


Original Source: The Times

Online Source:

Willie Irvine discussed this game with Ivan Little during an interview and claims George Best has stolen one of his goals:

“… the record books say I scored one goal with George Best getting the other. But I got both of them – honestly! The disputed goal came after Bestie had cut in from the right and let fly with a drive towards the goals. I moved in from the inside-left position and headed the ball home. Yet all the papers said it was George who scored. I couldn’t believe it. All I can say is that it was a misty night. And I can only assume that the reporters couldn’t see the pitch clearly!”

Narrow Victory For Scotland


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats

24th November – Today In Our Footballing History

24/11/1965 Tirana Albania 1-1 Willie Irvine

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Martin Harvey, Terry Neill, Jimmy Nicholson, Jimmy McIlroy, Johnny Crossan, Willie Irvine, Derek Dougan, George Best

Northern Ireland squandered the chance of a play-off against Switzerland by failing to beat Albania away in the Group’s final fixture on 24th November 1965.

No airline would fly the Irish direct to Tirana so they flew to Rome and chartered an aircraft to Tirana. When the party had arrived and disembarked the pilot didn’t hang around and took off on the return journey back to Rome.

The food was so bad within the hotel that the players lived off chocolate bars which they had brought with them. Had Northern Ireland won this match they would have faced a Switzerland in a one-off qualification play-off for the World Cup Finals in England. As it was, the Swiss qualified ahead of them by a point. Perhaps the shock of the country and the food was the reason why Northern Ireland only drew this match and subsequently failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 1966.

Author: Magheramesk


Northern Ireland – Albania Match Programme 9/9/1992

N. Ireland Out of World Cup

Down Memory Lane: Woe in Albania has cost our lads over the years


On extreme left Bashkim Rudi and on extreme right Mexhid Haxhiu against legendary goalkeeper Pat Jennings, who will play against Albania 18 years after, in Belfast on April 27, 1983


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


24/11/2000 Ballymena Wales 2-1 Sammy Morrow, Christopher Kingsberry

Northern Ireland 2-1 Wales

Northern Ireland’s Under 15 schoolboys’ team have won the Victory Shield for the first time.

They beat Wales in a dramatic finish at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday night.

Wales were leading 1-0 with just a few minutes left and that would have been enough to give them the trophy outright.

Their goal was scored on 55 minutes by Rys Carpenter who followed up well after keeper Lee Windrum has blocked his first shot.

But Northern Ireland staged a remarkable revival in the closing stages.

First, skipper Sammy Morrow fired in a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.

Then, in the third minute of injury-time, Christopher Kingsberry got the trophy-clinching winner.


Thanks To Conall Murtagh For the Photo

Thanks To Conall Murtagh For the Photo

23rd November – Today In Our Footballing History




22nd November – Today In Our Footballing History

22/11/1961 London England 1-1 Jimmy McIlroy

Vic Hunter, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Danny Blanchflower, Terry Neill, Jimmy Nicholson, Billy Bingham, Hugh Barr, Billy McAdams, Jimmy McIlroy, Jimmy McLaughlin

This was not a particularly good day for England. In front of the lowest crowd yet for a Wembley international, they produced a very disjointed performance to claim just a point against a lowly Northern Irish side. Most of this England team had been involved in the thrilling exploits of the previous season; it was a most inexplicable fall from grace. England showed the talent, but not the character. Blanchflower, captain of Northern Ireland for the 40th time in his 50th international, led by example with a wonderful display.

The England forward line had two new caps. Byrne was the first Crystal Palace player capped by England since 1923, whilst Crawford was the first Ipswich Town player to be capped by England ever. Byrne was the one England player to live up to his reputation, but Crawford did not deal well with the few chances he was afforded. McLaughlin and McAdams both missed good chances for the Irish inside the opening 20 minutes. England then began to take control. Haynes missed a sitter, but then Charlton scored a typical goal – taking the ball, creating space and unleashing a rocket into the top corner. Sadly, he would barely get into the game again after that.

The game was scrappy for some time thereafter. Shortly after half-time, Crawford missed an absolute gift of a chance, hitting the bar from in front of an open goal. Ireland showed their perennial spirit, and were rewarded near the end. Elder, Nicholson and McAdams combined to set up McIlroy for the equaliser. It was just reward for McIlroy, who, after Blanchflower, had been the most influential player in Ireland’s colours. The large Irish contingent in the crowd were understandably delighted. The best England could now hope for was a share of the championship title. For that, they would have to win at Hampden.


England Held To Draw By Ireland


Roy Cathcart (team photo from Soccer Star)


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats

21st November – Today In Our Footballing History

21/11/1979 Belfast Republic Of Ireland 1-0 Gerry Armstrong

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Sammy Nelson, Allan Hunter, Chris Nicholl, Vic Moreland, David McCreery, Martin O’Neill (Tommy Cassidy), Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy, Derek Spence

Gerry Armstrong scored the only goal of the game on 54 minutes at the end of 10 minutes of non-stop Northern Ireland pressure, though their keeper Pat Jennings was man of the match having made two brilliant saves before half-time. The Republic’s Gerry Daly needed three stitches to a head wound after being struck by a stone thrown from the crowd. Danny Blanchflower resigned as Northern Ireland manager immediately afterwards; “When I spoke to the committee during the week I got the impression they would like me to go and this time I have decided I will go. I believe Northern Ireland have a possible chance in the 1982 World Cup and a younger man should be given the chance.” The win for Northen Ireland ensured England their place in Italy.


Danny Blanchflower on the eve of the match: “What’s all this fuss about? It’s only two teams from England playing each other, after all.”

Gerry Armstrong:

“Neither of us amounted to much then in the big wide world. We’d earlier been hammered 4-0 by Denmark, then 5-1 by England, and the Republic’s results hadn’t been great either. It was competitive enough, I was in a Spurs-Arsenal battle … Manchester United lads were on opposite sides. We all wanted to be the ones who were doing the crowing afterwards.”

“This time it was our turn to wear green jerseys… Again, we were on our best behaviour. Some lunatic in the crowd chucked a missile and the fans actually caught the guy and passed him over to the police. It was he most sensible reaction I ever saw from a crowd.”

“I can well remember big Mick Kearns leaving his line and calling loudly: ‘Keepers ball.’ But he made a fatal mistake. He did not move to gather the ball and I nipped in from of him and glanced a header into the net. The goal was at the Kop end, and the crowd adored it. You see, we’d gone out looking the underdogs. I knew there and then that we had won the match and if the fans were happy, the players were delirious. We had done a professional job. Our pride was intact.”

“It was after the game that Danny Blanchflower resigned… Ten minutes after the game Danny revealed in the dressing room ‘”This is goodbye, lads. I’m resigning.'” We were stunned. After such a victory it was the last thing we expected to hear. There were tears shed.”

“Danny was unlike any other manager – a bit of a mystic and dreamer. But his love of the game was obvious and we loved him. The match was forgotten as he went round shaking hands. I was especially sad as Danny had given me my chance in the team. I’ll never forget him saying before my debut – ‘”Go out and enjoy it. I picked you so I take the responsibility.'”

Photographer: Roy Smyth

1979_nov_northernireland_repofirelandPhotographer: Roy Smyth


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats